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How to protect your privacy on Android

Android

Follow these easy steps to protect the personal data on your Android devices, and don’t forget that can include TVs and other dedicated devices as well as phones and tablets. Also note that the instructions below may differ slightly depending on your version of Android.

Minimize Google’s data collection.

On most Android devices you don’t have to sign in with your Google account, although some services may be limited. Also make sure you review your Google activity profile at https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity.

Lock down your device.

Use a PIN or ideally an alphanumeric password to lock your device.

How: Settings > Security > Screen lock

Encrypt the device to protect the data stored on it.

Note that a PIN or password needs to be set to do this, and the device needs to be plugged in.

How: Settings > Security > Encrypt phone/tablet

Keep the device’s software up-to-date.

Good advice for any device, not just Android.

How: Settings > About phone/tablet > System Update

Be wary of third-party app stores.

Also, don’t allow installation of apps from “unknown sources” unless you’re very confident in the source.

How: Settings > Security > Unknown sources

When installing an app, check its permissions first.

Think carefully about whether to continue installation if it’s requesting access to sensitive data. Seek out apps that require the minimum permissions necessary, like our search app.

Review permissions for installed apps.

You may have missed changes during updates or perhaps changed your opinion of what’s acceptable. Remove apps you no longer use, and consider replacing some with ones that request the minimum permissions.

How: Settings > Apps > [app name]

Consider which apps you want syncing with the cloud.

Not syncing apps will limit the data they send to the cloud.

How: Settings > Accounts section > [app name]

Hide private notifications.

Stop apps from showing notification content in the lock screen (newer versions of Android only).

How: Settings > Sound & notifications

Review default apps.

Assess your default applications, making sure you trust critical communication apps like email, SMS, and browser (newer versions of Android only).

How: Settings > Apps > ⚙ icon > Default

Don’t share your location with apps.

Stop individual apps accessing your location (newer versions of Android only).

How: Settings > Apps > ⚙ icon > App permissions > Location

Don’t share your location with Google.

Stop Google services tracking your location, and reset your location history.

How: Settings > Location > Google Location History

Consider using a non-Google version of Android.

One popular example is LineageOS, based on CyanogenMod, although this requires technical knowledge to install on your device.

How: Be aware of the risks and follow the install guides.